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    Time to Talk Day

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    Time to Talk Day


    1st February 2024.

    Time to Talk Day 1

    Time to Talk Day.  What is it?  I had never heard of it until recently.  Turns out, it is held every year and is run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and is in partnership with the Co-Op.  This year it is being observed on the 1st February in the UK.

    Time to Talk Day aims to encourage everyone to be more open and talk about mental health.  The words ‘mental health’ still carry so much stigma.  A bit like the words domestic abuse, and I have been thinking how the two can be linked in a positive way.

    Talking about mental health can sometimes feel awkward and uncomfortable.  Especially if we are the one’s that are experiencing mental health issues – and plenty of us are!  But it doesn’t have to feel awkward of uncomfortable.  A simple text or whatsapp to a friend or colleague we haven’t heard from in a while.  Simply saying “Hey, how are you?  It has been a while”.

    Domestic Abuse and Mental Health go hand in hand.  If you are experiencing or ever have experienced domestic abuse, then you will have experienced poor mental health to some degree or another.  It goes without saying doesn’t it?  I would be extremely surprised to speak to even one person who had experienced domestic abuse in one of its forms, who said they hadn’t experienced some form of poor mental health.  In fact, I wouldn’t believe them!

    In my Mum’s generation, they called it depression.  I once said to my mother I felt she had poor mental health and she bit my head of and accused me of saying she was mad!  Yet, the stigma continues!

    No matter how hard we find it, we all have to concede, it is ‘good to talk’.  That old cliché!  But it is not just about talking.  It is about so much more than that.  It is about listening.  It is about believing what someone is talking to you about.  Talking, listening, believing are all things that can change a person’s life for the better.

    What about disclosure?  It is the same thing, isn’t it?  Many people who have experienced domestic abuse fear disclosing it to another person because they are afraid of not being listened to, of not being believed.  They are told by their abuser; they will not be believed.  They are threatened by their abuser that if they TALK to someone they will be seen as mad.  They will lose the children.  They won’t be listened to or believed.  So how can we all start to break down the stigma around mental health and domestic abuse?

    Shall we all try to talk to one person on the 1st February.  It can be about anything.  It doesn’t have to be about domestic abuse.  We can text or whatsapp that friend we haven’t heard from in a while.  We can just simply say “How are you?”  Hopefully, they will be thrilled to get a message from you and they will message you back or call you and say they are fine and ask you if you are ok.  But, if they message you or call you and say they need to talk, let’s talk to them.  Let’s make a promise to ourselves that we will try to help one person on the 1st February by talking.  And if that talking means there is a disclosure of domestic abuse, make sure you are armed with the information you need to be able to support and signpost that person to the help they need.

    • Talk
    • Listen
    • Believe

    Three simple things we can all do to help others and ourselves.

    Will you do it?

    Time to Talk Day 2

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    By Fiona Bawden, Times Online (8th May 2007)

    “Steve Connor, a student at City Law School, is a man on a mission. Six years ago he was a fairly directionless 27-year-old. Today, as well as taking the Bar Vocational Course, he is chairman of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, a ground-breaking organisation that he dragged into existence after a friend could not get legal help to protect her from an abusive partner.

    Connor’s route to the Bar has been circuitous. In 2001 he returned from a year in Australia (he says that he would not dignify describing it as a gap year), and took a job as a process server in South London. The job (“I just saw it advertised in the paper”) was not quite as dull as it sounds. On one occasion he was threatened with a machete, on another, he was nearly stabbed by a man he had arranged to meet on Clapham Common to serve with a non-molestation order: “He’d seemed really friendly on the phone…”

    The turning point in his life came when a friend, who was being abused by her partner, turned to him for support. Connor went with her to the police. She did not want to press criminal charges so the police suggested that she visit a solicitor to take out a civil injunction. “We must have seen 12 solicitors in a morning. We just went from one to the next to the next to the next. Everyone was very eager to help until we sat down to fill in the forms for the legal aid means test,” he says. The woman, who had a small child, did not qualify for public funding. But, Connor says, her financial situation as it appeared on paper did not bear any relation to her financial situation in reality. “She had a part-time job and she and her partner owned their home. Yet she didn’t have any money. Her boyfriend was very controlling and controlled all the money; he kept the chequebooks and didn’t let her have access to the bank account.”

    The injustice of the situation got under Connor’s skin. “I just couldn’t believe that there was no help available to people who did not qualify for public funds but could not afford to pay.

    I just kept feeling that this must be able to be sorted if only someone would address it.”That “someone” turned out to be him.

    In 2002, thanks entirely to Connor’s doggedness, the London Centre for Domestic Violence was formed. It started out with him and a friend, but is now a national organisation, covering 27 counties, and has helped approximately 10,000 victims last year to take out injunctions against their partners.

    NCDV now has nine full-time staff, 12 permanent volunteers and has trained over 5000 law and other students as McKenzie Friends to accompany unrepresented victims into court. We have also trained over 8000 police officers in civil remedies available regarding domestic violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has branches in London, Guildford and Manchester and is on track to have branches in 16 areas within the next two years.

    NCDV specialises exclusively in domestic violence work and could be characterised as a cross between McDonald’s and Claims Direct. The high degree of specialisation means that its processes are streamlined: clients can be seen quickly and the work is done speedily and cheaply. “Sometimes, we will have one of our trained McKenzie Friends at a court doing 10 applications in one day,” Connor says.

    Clients are not charged for the service. NCDV staff take an initial statement: clients who qualify for legal aid are referred to a local firm; those that don’t get free help from the centre itself. It runs on a shoestring, heavily reliant on volunteers and capping staff salaries at £18,000 a year.

    Steve expects to qualify as a barrister this summer and hopes that having a formal legal qualification will give the centre added clout. “We are already acknowledged as experts and consulted at a high level, so I thought it would be helpful if I could back that up by being able to say I’m a barrister,” he says. He is just about to complete a one-year full-time BVC course at the City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court Law School) and, all being well, should be called to the Bar in July. Although Connor sees his long-term future as a barrister, he says that he has no immediate plans to practise. “I want to get NCDV running on a fully national level. Then I may take a step back and have a career at the Bar.”